External Examiner nomination criteria

Departments/schools and partner institutions are responsible for nominating suitable External Examiners for appointment for all awards. The relevant Faculty Dean is responsible for the approval of nominations.

The nominating department/school, or partner institution, need to ensure they have appropriate evidence that the proposed External Examiner meets all the criteria for selection; where these criteria are not fully met, a written case for an exception must be submitted with the nomination form for consideration by the relevant Faculty Dean (see exceptions below).

Academic qualifications and examining experience

External Examiners should have:

  • competence and experience in the academic fields covered by the programme
  • relevant academic and/or professional qualifications to at least the level of the qualification being externally examined and any appropriate practical experience
  • academic and teaching experience at the level of the modules or award being examined, including designing and operating a variety of appropriate assessment procedures. Examiners may be appointed for their professional or industry knowledge (see exceptions below) but each board must include at least one External Examiner with experience and knowledge of UK Higher Education sector standards and benchmarks, and with recent teaching and examining experience
  • sufficient standing, credibility and breadth of experience within the discipline to be able to command the respect of colleagues
  • familiarity with the standard to be expected of students to achieve the award that is to be examined
  • fluency in English and, for programmes delivered and assessed in languages other than English, additionally fluency in the relevant language(s)
  • met applicable criteria set by professional, statutory or regulatory bodies
  • awareness of current developments in the design and delivery of relevant curricula
  • competence and experience relating to the enhancement of the learning experience

Independence and impartiality

To ensure impartiality and that potential conflicts of interest are identified and resolved prior to appointment, departments/schools or partner institutions should not nominate anyone to whom the following applies:

  • previous External Examiners for taught courses (unless exceptional circumstances apply and five years have elapsed since their last appointment)
  • a member of a governing body or committee of the University or one of its collaborative partners, or a current employee of the University or one of its collaborative partners
  • close friend or relative of a member of staff or student on the programme of study
  • anyone required to assess colleagues who are recruited as students to the programme of study anyone who is, or knows they will be, in a position to influence significantly the future of students on the programme of study
  • anyone significantly involved in recent or current collaborative research activities with a member of staff closely involved in the delivery, management or assessment of the programme(s) or module(s). The advice of QUAD should be sought where the extent of involvement is in question.
  • former staff or students of the University or one of its collaborative partners (unless a period of five years has elapsed and all students taught by or with the External Examiner have completed their programme)
  • when a colleague from the same department/school in the same institution was the previous External Examiner for the relevant programme
  • If a staff member in the department/school holds an External Examiner post at the proposed External Examiner’s home department/school
  • a member of their home institution department/school is already an External at Essex. 

Departments/schools and partner institutions are encouraged to source External Examiners from different institutions in order that a wide range of academic experience and practice can contribute to the enhancement of academic provision at the University of Essex. It is therefore preferable that departments/schools and partner institutions do not nominate academics based in different departments/schools of institutions from which they have already appointed a current External Examiner, however, an arrangement like this could be endorsed if a sufficient supporting rationale is provided along with an overview of the range of institutions that External Examiners are from within the department/school alongside the initial nomination.

Volume of work

  • External Examiners are normally appointed for four years. Exceptionally, and to ensure continuity, extension to a fifth year may be approved.
  • External Examiners should typically hold no more than two appointments for taught programmes/modules at any one time. (External examining of individual candidates for research degrees is not counted for the purposes of this requirement).
  • An existing External Examiner can hold a role in more than one department/school at the University (for example where there is overlap in discipline), however, the external can only be appointed for A four-year term from the start of their first appointment. If appointing an existing external, please check whether the term they can serve is sufficient for the award needs. In exceptional cases, the term of appointment may be extended to five years to ensure continuity.


  • External Examiners should normally reside in the UK. Approval to appoint an Examiner from outside the UK will be granted only exceptionally.


Where a nominee does not fulfil all the specified criteria (for instance in disciplines which are very small or specialist, or where Examiners are drawn from business or a profession) the relevant Executive Dean or nominee may consider a request for exceptional appointment. A written case for appointment should be enclosed with the nomination form.

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